Cyber security threats are rapidly increasing for the legal industry with 75% of Uk law firms reporting being a victim to a cyber attack. As the legal industry continues adopting more digital technologies and remote work arrangements, their vulnerability to cyber attacks also increases dramatically. Law firms handle extremely sensitive client information, making them an attractive target for hackers.

In this article, we will overview the top 5 cyber security threats expected to impact law firms in 2024. Understanding these threats will help legal professionals implement more robust cyber defences to protect client data and ensure business continuity when the inevitable attack occurs. The 5 key areas that we have identified as critical for those operating within or around the legal sector are:


Ransomware Attacks
Phishing Attacks
Data Privacy Regulations
Third-Party Risks
Insider Threats




Ransomware is quickly becoming one of the top cyberthreats for law firms. These malicious programs encrypt files and servers, denying access until a ransom is paid. Unfortunately, attacks on law firms are surging.

The most common ransomware variants currently plaguing law firms include lockbit, Sodinokibi, DoppelPaymer, and Maze. These sophisticated strains often breach networks via phishing emails. Once inside, they rapidly encrypt sensitive data before activating the ransom demand. At the end of last year we saw magic circle firm Allen and Overy suffer from a major ransomware attack at the hands of the Lockbit ransom group.

For a law firm, impacts of a ransomware attack can be devastating. Client files and case information may be lost forever. Operations grind to a halt. Legal deadlines are missed. Reputation is damaged. Recovery costs often reach six or seven figures. Worse still, around one in three ransom payments fail to restore data access.

Facing rapidly proliferating threats, law firms must prioritise cybersecurity awareness training plus comprehensive backups. Quick incident response is also key. With advanced preparation, firms can isolate and eliminate ransomware before catastrophic disruption.



Phishing attacks targeting lawyers and law firms are rapidly increasing. Net documents analysis of data from the information commissioner’s office (ICO) found that 23% of attacks on UK law firms were from phishing attacks. These attacks often use social engineering techniques and spoofed emails to trick lawyers into giving up sensitive information or enabling malware.

The most common phishing techniques used against law firms include:
  • Emails impersonating clients or court systems requesting urgent wire transfers or payment changes. These try to exploit the time pressures of legal work.
  • Fake subpoenas, discovery requests, or court notifications with malicious links or attachments. These rely on lawyers’ duty to promptly respond to legal actions.
  • Emails posing as bar associations or courtroom staff asking to update attorney profiles or court records. These aim to harvest login credentials.
  • Messages claiming a lawyer must verify or reset their email, e-filing, or document management system password. These attempt to phish credentials.
UK Law firms can prevent successful phishing attacks through:
  • Educating all employees on identifying phishing techniques, especially spoofing, urgency cues, and unexpected requests.
  • Using email authentication tools like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to detect spoofing.
  • Carefully scrutinising any unusual payment instructions or changes. Verifying these directly with clients.
  • Enabling two-factor authentication wherever possible, especially for finance and document systems.
  • Keeping software patched and updated to prevent malware delivered through phishing.

With vigilance and training, law firms can equip their lawyers to recognise and stop phishing attempts targeting their data and systems. But as attacks grow more sophisticated, legal practices must stay on guard.


Data Privacy Regulations

New data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA are having a major impact on the legal industry. Law firms handle extremely sensitive client information, so they must ensure compliance with these new laws or face significant consequences.

Some of the requirements of regulations like GDPR and CCPA include:
  • Giving individuals more control over their personal data
  • Restricting use of personal data for profiling or automated decision-making
  • Requiring consent for data collection and processing
  • Mandating data protection impact assessments for high-risk activities
  • Expanding requirements for breach notification
  • Increased penalties and fines for non-compliance, up to 4% of global revenue
To comply, law firms must:
  • Review data collection, storage, sharing, and retention policies
  • Create and manage an inventory of all personal data
  • Implement privacy by design for new projects
  • Conduct risk assessments and mitigate identified risks
  • Designate a Data Protection Officer to oversee compliance
  • Update consent forms and privacy policies
  • Develop data breach response plans
  • Train staff on privacy practices and handling personal data

Non-compliance can lead to hefty fines, lawsuits, loss of client trust, and serious reputational damage. With data privacy regulations expanding worldwide, cybersecurity strategies at law firms must prioritise compliance as a top concern.


Third-Party Risks

Law firms are increasingly outsourcing various services to third parties, from IT and cloud services to legal work. While this can provide efficiencies, it also expands the attack surface. Law firms need to take steps to ensure their third party suppliers and partners are secure.

Third party suppliers may have access to sensitive client data and systems, yet their security practices are out of the firm’s control. Suppliers could expose law firms to breaches, outages, data leaks, compliance violations and other cyber risks.

Law firms should have a process in place to assess and manage third party cyber risks. This includes:
  • Due diligence on a vendor’s data security controls and privacy practices before partnering. Look for certifications, audit results, and policies.
  • Security and privacy terms in the contract, with the ability to audit suppliers. Require notification of any breach.
  • Ongoing monitoring and oversight of supplier relationships and renewal of due diligence.
  • Contingency planning in case the supplier’s services are disrupted. Maintain backups and alternative vendors.
  • Limiting supplier access to only necessary systems and data, with controls like multi-factor authentication.

By taking steps to assess and limit third party access, law firms can confidently leverage suppliers while minimising cyber risks. Responsible partnering and supplier oversight are key for secure and resilient operations.


Insider Threats

Insider threats pose a significant cybersecurity risk for law firms as employees and contractors may intentionally or accidentally expose confidential data. According to Netdocuments analysis of ICO data, 60% of data breaches in the UK legal sector were the result of insider actions.

Law firms contain highly sensitive client information, including trade secrets, pending deals, intellectual property, and personal data. This makes them an attractive target for malicious insiders looking to profit off stolen data. Cybercriminals may attempt to recruit insiders or compromised accounts to exfiltrate privileged data.

Disgruntled employees are another insider threat vector. Departing employees may steal client data and documents to gain leverage in future job negotiations. Staff with access privileges could also delete or sabotage data out of resentment. Research from PWC found that 8% of UK firms experienced an incident by a malicious insider

However accidental insider threats tend to be more common in UK law firms, with 77% of the top 100 law firms experiencing incidents unintentionally caused by staff . An employee might inadvertently email confidential files to the wrong recipient or lose a device containing sensitive data. Firms often lack visibility into how data is handled internally.

To mitigate insider threats, law firms should implement least privilege access controls, monitoring for suspicious data access or transfers, and comprehensive employee training. Using data loss prevention, rights management, and endpoint controls can prevent data exfiltration. Firms should also conduct rigorous background checks on new hires and limit access by third-party suppliers. Ongoing audits and risk analysis is key to identifying potential insider threats before major damage occurs.




The threats outlined here underscore the importance of proactively securing your systems and implementing robust cybersecurity measures.Failing to address these threats now could lead to devastating consequences like permanent data loss, identity theft, lawsuits, and damage to the firm’s reputation. Proactive planning and cybersecurity awareness training for all employees are crucial. Law firms cannot afford to be reactive with security – the risks are too high. Your clients trust you to safeguard their sensitive information. Make cybersecurity a top priority now to mitigate risks down the road.



Protect your firm with Arx Alliance

The Arx platform is unique. Our approach is collaborative rather than prescriptive. We give you the tools and the framework to create robust, secure supply chains in a way that is effective, and cuts through the noise and jargon of a complex industry.

Over time, through a guided step-by-step process, we can help you identify and mitigate risks inside your own organisation, and collaborate with your suppliers to create robust, secure supply chain relationships.

Arx provides your firm and suppliers with a suite of tools:

  • Visibility of the organisation’s attack surfaces
  • Efficient control of cyber policies and standards
  • Central place for managing standards and controls
  • Continuous monitoring of all touch points
  • Situational awareness for all tiers of supply chain
  • Risk scored suppliers to highlight weak links